Public and private sector discuss travel restrictions and USMCA implementation

LAREDO – IBC Bank executives joined the Texas Border Coalition and the Borderplex Alliance for a virtual U.S.-Mexico Border Summit on Wednesday, June 17. This annual event – which normally takes place in-person -- brings together business, government and civic leaders to discuss the importance of the border region in increasing the global competitiveness of both the United States and Mexico.


IBC Bank Chairman and CEO Dennis E. Nixon and Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino delivered opening remarks and Executive Vice President Gerry Schwebel presented on the current economic impact of the travel restrictions on the border.


"The temporary restrictions on non-essential travel have devastated small to medium-sized businesses along both sides of the border, causing revenue / sales losses of 50 to 80 percent.," explained Nixon. "Visitors from Mexico aren’t only essential to the businesses here in our border communities, they also have an important impact on the broader Texas and U.S. economy. Businesses in the United States and Mexico have reorganized and implemented protocols to safely reopen. It is absolutely crucial that the travel restrictions, which serve no useful purpose, be lifted."


Nixon, who serves as a member of Gov. Greg Abbot’s Strike Force to Reopen the Economy, recently co-authored a letter to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf urging that the current restrictions on non-essential travel between the United States, Mexico and Canada be allowed to expire on or before June 22. Since then, the restrictions have been extended through July 21.


Since March, commercial, non-commercial and pedestrian bridge crossings have plummeted by as much as 79%. Laredo bridge crossing revenue is down approximately 38%. Since local and federal funding for border security relies on revenues from taxes and border crossings, the travel ban has devastated most Texas border communities.


"Besides the immediate economic impact, the restrictions have caused, they also have the potential to affect the upcoming implementation of the USMCA Agreement," explained Schwebel. "The pandemic has highlighted how U.S. dependence on far-flung supply chains can pose a threat to our public health, our economic vitality and even our national security. USMCA, which takes effect on July 1, offers a solution for diversifying those supply chains and bringing more of them closer to home. But we must reopen the borders."


IBC Bank executives were instrumental in the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the updated USMCA. During the summit, Nixon encouraged fellow business and civic leaders to remain connected and engaged in issues affecting the border region.


IBC Bank executives also shared information about a new campaign, "Region Laredos, Mas Unidos Que Nunca," or "The Laredos Region, More United Than Ever." The cross-border initiative from the Laredo and Nuevo Laredo Chambers of Commerce includes tools and resources for business owners to help inform customers and the community that they are safe and open for business.


Additional guest speakers at the U.S.-Mexico Border Summit included Texas Border Coalition Chairman and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Texas Border Coalition Washington, D.C. office representative Billy Moore, Borderplex Alliance CEO Jon Barela, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and Eagle Pass Mayor Luis Sifuentes.